Essex: Suspension from Parliament recommended for Lord Hanningfield
PUBLISHED: 17:18 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 17:32 12 May 2014
Disgraced peer Lord Hanningfield could be suspended from the House of Lords over allowances’ claims.
The Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee said the former Conservative Essex County Council leader should face the sanction until the end of the current session of Parliament.
It also recommended the peer, who was jailed in 2011 over his parliamentary expenses, repays £3,3000 which he had wrongly claimed.
The investigation came after a national newspaper photographed Lord Hanningfield, real name Paul White, entering and leaving Parliament and spending short periods of time while claiming the daily allowance of £300.
Following publication of the allegations in December a complaint was made to the Commissioner for Standards that Lord Hanningfield had breached Parliamentary rules and therefore the code of conduct.
An investigation by the commissioner found the peer had spent less than 40 minutes in Parliament and had not carried out work, meaning he wrongly claimed £3,000.
Lord Hanningfield appealed against the decision, but the conduct committee ruled no work had been carried out, and even the reduced daily rate of £150 should not apply.
The full House of Lords will now consider whether to impose the sanction.
In a statement Lord Hanningfield said: “I regret that my mistakes have ultimately resulted in me being suspended from the House but would like to assure the people and organisations I was in the process of helping that I will continue with the work I have started, outside the Lords, to ensure our efforts will not have been wasted.
“I never attempted to hide any of these transgressions, simply because I was unaware that what I was doing was wrong.
“I thank my fellow peers, and the public, for their ongoing support during what has been the most difficult period of my life.
“Like many other Lords, I believe the allowance to be a ‘de facto’ salary. And so, even if I am not speaking in the House or participating in a debate or vote, I am still required to travel to the House in order to claim the allowance, just as there are many more days a year where I will work all day and not claim at all.
“It will be difficult to recover from this most recent setback but that has never stopped me before. It will at least allow me the opportunity to complete the book I have begun to write on my life, and the last five years in particular.”